Raising Critical Awareness of Watching American TV Cartoons in an ESL Context

  • Received : 20120700
  • Published : 2012.09.30


The study focused on exploring the ways that young ESL learners can cultivate media literacy by asking critical questions about the messages embedded in popular American TV cartoons. The participants in the study were five Korean children who came from three different families that had been living in a Midwestern college-town in the U. S. for less than two years. Research methods include analysis of interviews, video-taped sessions and photos of children's drawings. The children were asked about their American cartoon viewing habits as well as critical questions after watching two episodes of their favorite cartoons-Pok$\acute{e}$mon and SpongeBob. The analysis revealed that on one hand popular culture played an important role in helping children to adjust to a new culture and in motivating them to learn English. Further, the children believed that watching American cartoons was helping them improve their English skills. On the other hand, it appeared that they were not accustomed to being asked critical questions and thinking critically while watching American cartoons. Participation in the study increased the children's familiarity with critical questions and critical thinking to varying degrees. Pedagogical implications and suggestions for teachers are discussed.